There might have been a time when I found Rokka no Yuusha engaging, but to be honest this light novel adaptation left me pretty bored. I think my tolerance for this sort of formula has gotten a lot lower.
All the boxes are checked – country boy hero with dreams of glory, hot chicks in revealing armor, demon kings. I go into these things with as much of an open mind as I can, and sometimes they surprise me. But there just didn’t seem to be anything really unusual or interesting here – the whole fake hero concept really didn’t resonate. The production values and music are fine, but that’s about all that stood out for me. Pass.
Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai – 01
Here’s another LN adaptation, but I found this one to have a whole lot more going for it. Shimoneta isn’t going to win any awards from the critics, but it’s quite fun in a determinedly stupid way, and occasionally very funny indeed.
I really like what J.C. Staff is doing lately. Their shows have a real dash and creativity to them, and that wasn’t always the case – they’ve always been reliable for faithful adaptations, but sometimes the visuals tended to run towards the generic. Shimoneta has an infectious lunacy about it and the way director Suzuki Youhei stages it contributes nicely to that.
Was this series written specifically in response to Ishihara and Bill 156? I don’t know for certain but if not, it could have been. It depicts a world where the “Law for Public Order and Morals in Healthy Child-Raising” has made Japan a preposterously repressed and sanitized place (even bad words are banned). This is especially true of Tokioka Academy, the “most moral school in the nation”, where the students are hilariously ignorant of every biological function their hormone-infused bodies long to engage in. Okuma Tanukichi (Kobayashi Yuusuke) is the son of a famed “pervert terrorist” who’s enrolled at Tokioka because he “admired” the student council president and chef moralist, Nishikinomiya Anna (Matsuki Miyu).
There’s some sledgehammer-subtle social commentary here, obviously, but the comedy is the star. This dumb conceit is executed with aplomb, delivering some pretty hilarious visual and verbal comedy. Anna’s BFF Kajou Ayame (Ishigami Shizuka) is actually terrorist “Blue Snow“, who has a flip-phone with an app that allows her to swear like a sailor on leave for three minutes a day while wearing panties on her head, and she gets the reluctant Tanukichi caught up in helping her create the SOX organization to resist the morals law. There’s also a sex-obsessed student named Fuwa Hyouka (a very funny Gotou Saori) who sees Tanukichi as the key to providing the answers she desperately seeks.
Trust me, this works a lot better than it sounds. The ignorant students wrestling with the stuff Blue Snow shows them are truly hilarious, and the pinnacle of that comes (pun intended) when Kajou uses Fuwa’s “bodymelding” fly experiment and some impassioned acting to send their student bodies over the edge. I also laughed very hard watching Tanukichi try to figure out Kajou’s “girls have four mouths” joke. I really have no idea if there’s more here than just zany comedy – there would need to be substantial depth if Shimoneta were evert to aspire to the heights of a thoughtful look at eroticism like R-15 – but I think there’s enough here to deliver a pretty funny comedy either way.
Gatchaman Crowds Insight – 01
I’m not sure what I was hoping would change with Insight, but I really did want things to be different. It really pained me that I liked the first season of Crowds as little as I did – I like Nakamura Kenji as a director very much, and his prior collaboration with Oono Toshiya produced one of my favorite series of the decade.
But struggle with Crowds I did, and mightily. I had many and varied problems with Gatchaman Crowds – the lazy writing, the lack of discipline in the narrative, and most significantly the protagonist. It’s no exaggeration to say that Hajime may be my least favorite main character in anime – she’s certainly the worst in any series that was otherwise good enough for it to matter. But there’s just so much talent behind this franchise that I can’t help but hope that a miracle will happen.
So far, I’m out of luck. There is a new character named Tsubasa (Ishihara Kaori) who, judging by the OP, may just steal some of the MC role from Hajime. She’s annoying, but nowhere near as bad as Hajime. But Hajime is still here, and still pure torture every time she opens her mouth. As for the other issues, there’s no way to tell yet whether Insight will prove a tighter and more cohesive story, but based on this premiere (and the Inbound “Episode 00” that aired last week) there’s not much evidence that anything has changed. Crowds is still all over the map, still way too loud, and the characters smile so much I want to slap them across the face with a fish like Michael Palin.
Honestly, I just don’t see any way I can blog Insight – there’s just so much about this franchise that I really dislike. It’s shocking to me that Nakamura and Oono can be this mediocre, and that viewers actually seem to prefer that mediocrity to Tsuritama. Maybe if there were lesser talents involved I’d be holding Gatchaman to lower standards, but if that were the case the show isn’t nearly good enough to have kept me interested anyway.